Monday, April 12, 2010

Sonia's tough line on RTI amendments

Sonia Gandhi has indicated her opposition to some of the amendments to RTI that the government is contemplating, TOI reports.

"It is important, therefore, that we adhere strictly to its original aims and refrain from accepting or introducing changes in the legislation or the way it is implemented that would dilute its purpose. In my opinion, there is no need for changes or amendments. The only exceptions permitted, such as national security, are already well taken care of in the legislation," she said.

Sonia Gandhi said the problem with the RTI Act is about "public lack of awareness of the RTI and the harassment of applicants" and "these problems need to be addressed."
Mrs Gandhi is right. One amendment that has been causing concern is giving the public information office the right not to respond to what he regards as "frivolous" applications. Another relates to keeping the higher judiciary out of the purview of the Act. The RTI Act is also in danger of being undermined by rising delays in disposal of appeals to the CIC. This needs to be addressed because information delayed is often information denied.

The RTI Act is revolutionary in its thinking and scope and will go down as one of the great achievements of UPA-I. The right to education and the right to food, now under consideration, will further bolster UPA's claim to standing up for the aam admi. In defending the RTI Act and in pushing for rights in other areas, Mrs Gandhi has displayed uncanny political instinct.